Criminal Annals, Part 117 – Horrible Accident.

The September 16, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” has a number of articles regarding accidents, fights, etc., from all over the Mother Lode area. The first one is about a miner in the Pilot Hill area who gets lost and apparently falls off a cliff. This is followed by some information from Calaveras county (Jackson was the county seat at that time since Amador county didn’t exist) regards some issues at the town of Campo Seco, a shooting an lynching, a fire and some horse thieves.

“Horrible Accident.– A miner, named George Curtis, engaged in working in a ravine near the Pilot Hills, in El Dorado county, met with an awful accident on Saturday evening last, while on his way to one of the Bars on the North Fork. He left his tent about dusk in company with a friend for the purpose of purchasing provisions. Before they had reached the brow of the hill, above the river, it had be come dark, and the two soon after lost their way and became separated. The companion of Curtis after halloing a long time in vain, proceeded on to the store expecting to meet him there. In this he was disappointed, and compelled to return to his tent, but he found that also deserted. Early on Sunday morning he started in search of him, and to his horror found his mutilated remains at the bottom of Rocky Canon, a precipitous gorge running from the brow of the hill down to the river. The perpendicular depth of the ravine at the point where Curtis fell, is not less than one hundred and fifty feet. The unfortunate man who undoubtedly in the darkness stepped off the brink, must have instantly been dashed to pieces, as his body was found awfully mangled and filled with sharp pointed stones. The deceased had been in California for some ten months, residing during the greater portion of the time in Nevada. He was a native of Essex county. N. Y., and about twenty-two years of age.”

“Calaveras Correspondence.

“War – Shooting and Lynch. Lair – Greasertown Destroyed by Fire – Horse Thieves Arrested, &c.

“Jackson, Sept. 14, 1852.

“ Messrs. Editors: Not having written to you for several weeks, I have quite a budget of local news to communicate, although forestalled in giving you a portion of it. Our county, the past week, has been the scene of considerable excitement, but the ‘war’ has been closed without any, bloodshed ,on either side, and the gallant heroes of Campo Seco, who neither fought, bled or died, though doubtless they were willing to have done all three, are now reposing on their laurels, and the ‘country is safe.’”

Note: Campo Seco was an early town settled by a group of Mexican miners around 1849. Forty different nationalities were represented among the miners at this location during the early years, making it perhaps the most cosmopolitan of all the mining camps. Because water was scarce, the camp was given the name, Campo Seco, which means “dry camp” in Spanish.

In 1852 the Mokelumne and Campo Seco Canal Mining Co. brought water to the area. The water was used by some to fill ravines, which soon silted up. Then vineyards and orchards were planted on the new land.
What was meant by a “war” is a mystery, even to members of the Calaveras County Historical Society.
The article continues; “On this side of the river, however, we have really have had bloodshed, and at one time, the prospects of a serious collision between two classes of our present mixed population. The particulars in brief are, that at Sutter’s Creek – four miles from Jackson – an Italian storekeeper shot a Chilean – whether justified or not, was a matter of dispute. At any rate, he was tried by a jury of eight Americans and four Chileans, who sentenced him to be hung. A large number of Chileans collected to see that the sentence was enforced, while some friends of the prisoner repaired to this place to obtain the intervention of the civil authorities. An officer with a warrant went over to Sutter to take him in custody, and while appealing to American citizens to aid hm in sustaining the laws, about a dozen guns and pistols were discharged by the Chileans at the prisoner, who fell mortally wounded. The Chileans then retired partly out of the town, and a number of his countrymen brought the wounded man to Jackson, where he died the next day. The leader of the Chileans, whose name is Domingo, was arrested on the night of the transaction, and has since undergone an examination, and been committed for trial.”
“On Saturday night the village of Greasertown, on the Calaveras, was completely destroyed by fire. This was quite a populous summer camp, containing from fifteen to twenty stores, all of which, with their contents, were entirely consumed. The buildings were mostly temporary structures, but the loss is very heavy notwithstanding.”

“A party from Ione Valley succeeded in capturing two Mexican horse thieves to-day at Clinton. The prisoners are now in town, and will undergo an examination to-morrow. There is some talk of a ‘change of venue,’ or a transfer of the case to the court of Judge Lynch.

[SIGNED] “S. N.”

This article is followed by a letter from Hunter & Co., an express company, regarding a fire in El Dorado county.

“FIRE AT WHITE ROCK, EL DORADO COUNTY. – The following letter was handed in at an early hour yesterday:
“Placerville, Sept. 15, 1852.

“MESSES. EDITORS: – lt is with much regret that we have to inform you of a destructive fire which occurred in the little village of White Rock, situated about four miles from this place [near the intersection of Mosquito and Union Ridge roads], on the evening of the 13th last. The South Fork Hotel, the stores of Messrs. Ross & Co., Messrs. Steele & Co, all substantial two story buildings, together with three other buildings of minor importance, were consumed. Loss estimated at about $15,000. Several of the sufferers lost all the property that they possessed – not even saving their clothing.

“Too much praise cannot be awarded the White Rock Canal Company, for the kind treatment and assistance they rendered the unfortunate sufferers. The fire is supposed to have originated in the bakery of Steele & Co.

“Respectfully yours, HUNTER & CO.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.